Asda has reaffirmed its commitment to the Northern Ireland market as it unveils plans to invest a further £3 million during 2016 to enhance its store network.

  • £3 million to be invested in NI stores during 2016
  • Further boost for local suppliers through launch of Supplier Development Academy

Addressing an audience of industry stakeholders, Asda President and CEO, Andy Clarke, said that after ten years of successful retailing in Northern Ireland, he is pleased with the performance of the region’s 17 stores and paid tribute to colleagues and customers alike for their continued support.

The news comes after Clarke pledged an additional £500m investment in lowering prices as he predicted another year of intense pressure for supermarket retailers against a turbulent global economic backdrop, in which he signalled the need for impactful changes and decisive action to make sure that Asda remains not only a viable business, but a strong market-leading one.

“We’ve enjoyed ten years of strong retailing here and look forward to more growth in the future,” said Clarke. “There’s no doubt that the retail sector as a whole has permanently changed to reflect the shopping habits of customers today.

“But we know our customers better than anyone else and we need to structure our offer to meet their changing needs. This knowledge has shaped our plans to make our bigger stores easier to shop, laying them out in a way that’s relevant to today’s customers by removing fringe, marginal ranges and providing services that they need. We call this Project Renewal and the £3m investment is specifically designed to continue to meet the demands of our customers in Northern Ireland”

According to the data from market analysts, Kantar, Asda’s market share In Northern Ireland grew to 17.4%, an increase of 2.2% YOY, with online growth showing a marked increase of 22.5% YOY – equating to 5.9% of total sales.

Reflecting on the wider business challenges faced by retailers, Clarke added: “The Northern Ireland market continues to be important offering great potential, and while the wider UK market context may mean that we have to re-assess our involvement in some developments, we are committed to investing £3million in eight of our Northern Ireland stores, including £¾ million in a new Petrol Filling Station in Strabane”

During his visit, Clarke also highlighted the success of Asda’s local sourcing policy. With over £300million of produce being annually sourced from 105 Island of Ireland food producers, Asda has played a significant role in boosting the local agri-food sector by creating export opportunities.

To help drive its local supply model forward and create new business opportunities for local companies, Asda today launched its Supplier Development Academy.

Eleven local food processing companies will participate in the six month programme which aims to boost innovation, generate additional sales and optimise export opportunities via Asda’s GB store network.

“As part of our commitment to Year of Food & Drink, we’re proud to support our suppliers through this unique Academy which is entirely focused on growth. When we first ran this initiative in 2012, participating suppliers achieved a combined sales increase of 20% and we hope to replicate this in 2016 – particularly by helping these suppliers gain more shelf space in our GB stores.

“This also reflects how we are responding to our NI customers who have sent the clear message that they want to be able to buy the local products that they trust and enjoy,” Clarke added.